Bronze a perfect Ji up

O'Neill wants South Korean to fight for first-team place

Ji Dong-won: The South Korean won a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics

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Sunderland striker Ji Dong-won's Olympic bronze medal could give the South Korean the necessary fuel to fight for a first-team place at the Stadium of Light, according to Martin O'Neill.

Ji has been given an extended summer break after helping his national side to third place at the London Games and is not expected back at his club until later in August, meaning he is likely to miss Saturday's start to the new Premier League season at Arsenal.

But when the forward does return, O'Neill is expecting a different player to the one who has made just two Premier League starts for Sunderland since his he was signed by Steve Bruce for £2million in the June of 2011.

"I'm hoping that the Olympic experience has done Ji the world of good," O'Neill told Sunderland's official website of the 21-year-old, who scored against Great Britain in the Olympic quarter-finals victory.

"I'm sure it has. South Korea were quite successful and they're expecting to reach anything up to the quarter-finals [in any tournament], so good have they become of late.

"I hope he comes back refreshed and ready to go. We've given him a little bit of time off after the championships but he'll be back towards the end of the month to stake his claim for a place.

"It's up to him, it really is. It's a fight now and I'm hoping he's up for the battle."